More linkage

Clearing out my links again, some old, some new:


Oil: An Introduction for New Zealanders

Ok, so I haven’t read this yet. But I will!

Daydreaming is important business


All the lonely people
– What happens to people who have no one to bury them?

50 Things You Need To Know About British History. Featuring my future husband (alas, he still doesn’t know it) Dan Snow.

Bookcrossing, which I keep meaning to sign up for.

London weekend

I had a lovely weekend in town this weekend, it had the perfect mix of relaxing and doing stuff and catching up with friends. On Saturday Kashmira had a couple of friends around to have lunch for Diwali, then in the evening I caught up with Katherine and went to Anna and Tim’s welcome home party in Greenwich. Good times. Sunday was Apple Day at Borough Market:

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(poor, misplaced apostrophe! ok so I took that one specifically with the SPAG (Spelling, Apostrophes and Grammar) group on facebook in mind)

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I met up with Rebecca at the market, but it was ridiculously busy so after some lunch we headed over to the Robin Hood estate in Elephant & Castle for the Seizure art installation. Basically a whole flat in this condemned council estate has been crystallised with copper sulphate crystals. Surprisingly difficult to photograph!

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We had to wear wellies as it was very damp inside!

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Very, very awesome.

Sunday evening Ben came round on his rounds of picking up stuff he’s left at various people’s flats around London, and we spent ages laughing at this video, because I am 5:

The week in (crappy mobile phone) pictures

I’ve just cleared my phone of pictures, which has reminded me of some of the things I’ve done in the past week. There was Ethiopian food with my new flatmate Kashmira:

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(I think I have a new favourite cuisine – it was amazing)

Then Charlotte’s hen night:

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Although it’s only a crappy camera phone pic, I kind of like this picture I took of the London Eye and Big Ben:

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I took it on the way to the Rankin exhibition outside the National Theatre (another of my favourite London landmarks). Rankin went to a refugee camp in the Eastern Congo to take photos of the people there in his trademark style, against a white background. He says he wanted to take the photos in a way that gave the people dignity, and showed them in a positive way, while also telling their stories. It was incredibly effective. What has been happening in the Congo for years now is incredibly sad and this is helping to focus more attention on the situation. Who knows what will happen but I hope these people get to go home one day.

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Some links on the exhibition:
http://www.oxfam.org.uk/applications/blogs/pressoffice/?p=1967
http://www.nationaltheatre.org.uk/39681/exhibitions/emcheka-kidogoem-a-photography-exhibition.html

And here are some of the photos:
http://www.oxfam.org.uk/oxfam_in_action/where_we_work/drc/rankin_gallery.html

Knitting on the Tube!

Last night a bunch of us from I Knit met up to knit on the Tube and get photographed for a new book in the process. That’s me knitting a pair of hot pants there, more on those later! It was fun and I guess we’ll see ourselves in print at some stage. The book is called Slow London and it’s an alternative travel guide to London apparently. More details when I know them.

Final day in Budapest

Well on my last day in Budapest Simon went off to work while I got to explore on my own.  It was another beautiful, if slightly hazy, day:

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I headed for the Terror House, completely forgetting that it was a Monday and museums don’t tend to open on Mondays. So I ended up sitting on a park bench on Margrit Island in the middle of the Danube, reading my book and playing with all of the settings on my camera.

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You can’t really tell on this one but I have enhanced the red (using my camera, I’m too dense to use Photoshop) but I actually feel the finished result more accurately portrays what my eyes could see, than when I took a photo without any enhancement. Everything was so wonderfully autumnal and I loved the yellow of the leaves, the red of the park benches and the blue of the Danube and the sky!

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I can’t remember if I used macro on this or not. I suspect not. This was using aperture priority mode, which is a nice way to have some control without going fully manual.

All this photo-geekery is basically Sarah-speak for “I need a digi SLR, stat!” I’ve worked out that if I save hard enough I can probably buy one by the time I go to NZ for Christmas (or in duty free on the way or after I get there, I’ve been pricing and buying in NZ is possibly cheaper… or I could be extra good and wait for the Christmas sales – do SLRs get cheaper after Christmas?) Then maybe by next Christmas I will have saved up enough for a lens… extra memory cards… camera bag… filters…

(ps, the camera I linked to above is the current frontrunner simply because I love my Canon, but any advice would be gratefully accepted. On lenses too please.)

Anyway I digress! A final word on Budapest before I go. I just wanted to say Simon is the sweetest host anyone could hope for – he looked after me so well and it was just lovely to see him, meet his friends and see how well he’s doing! There is nothing more pleasurable than catching up with a good friend after a long absence and seeing him or her happy. I’m looking forward to doing some more of that when I’m in Christchurch in January!

Budapest Day Three

Sunday started with palacinka (pancakes) in a square on the opposite side of the river from Parliament. Then is was off to the Rudas Baths, a bath house built by the Turks in 1550. It has a domed ceiling with coloured glass in it and feels quite magical inside!

I decided to get a massage, as a half-hour massage cost the equivalent of about £15. It was one of the most interesting massages I’ve had! The masseur was a half-naked, fat, blind Hungarian man. It was a pretty good massage though, if a little painful at times!

Afterwards Simon and I alternated between the steam room, sauna, hot pool (42 degrees), cold pool (28) and the warm central pool. The waters definitely felt healing.

Sunday evening we were invited to have Canadian Thanksgiving with some of Simon’s workmates. We couldn’t go along empty handed so we got a bit ambitious and decided to make pavlova. With only a hand whisk! Finding ingredients also proved to be a bit difficult as we had no idea what the Hungarian for cream of tartar or cornflour were so they kind of just got left out… and then the oven was far too hot… but lo! We ended up with something resembling pavlova:

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(it was at this point I had a near-irresistable urge to shove the pavlova into Simon’s face – after we’d spent the entire afternoon making it!)

And just to prove it was edible:

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Budapest Day Two

On Ysolda’s tip, we managed to find a great wee boutique selling clothes by young Hungarian designers. It really made me think of Hilaire as it was full of stuff she’d love, shirtdresses, quirky detailing, recycled jewellery and accessories. I ended up buying a tshirt with birds and trees on it.

Then we had a bit of a wild goose chase around town trying to find somewhere to eat Lángos. We didn’t manage to but we got to see some of the city anyway, including City Park, which has a lovely fairytale castle in it:

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City Park was next to Heroes Square:

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Then it was back across to Buda and up Castle Hill.

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The view from the hill was lovely:

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We then descended into the Labyrinth. The Labyrinth is a network of cellars and caves under the castle. I sort of expected more history, but instead there are a bunch of dimly lit art installations. Cool all the same.

Afterwards we headed towards the Castle, where they were having a Pálinka and sausage festival. Pálinka is a type of brandy made from all kinds of fruits. We discovered it doesn’t really matter what type of fruit it’s made from as you can barely taste the flavour, just the burning alcoholic sensation! The honey Pálinka was quite good though. We also learned an old Hungarian saying: “Little talk and a long sausage will do you good”. Hmm!

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After our aperatifs and with neither of us eating sausages it was time for dinner. We tried out a vegetarian restaurant, Napfenyes Izek, which serves some traditional Hungarian dishes. Not bad!

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After dinner it was back across the bridge to Buda, and good night.

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Budapest, Day One

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Simon took me to eat the best gelato ever – they make it in the shape of a flower! Awesome. Also, they cost the equivalent of about £1. For that price I think I would eat it every day if I lived there! Please note that it was definitely ice cream weather.

We also went to the market, which was designed by Gustav Eiffel:

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There were a lot of souvenirs upstairs and I bought a few Christmas decorations for my collection. Downstairs were the vegetables and some meat, and quite a lot of paprika stalls!

Seasonal vegetables were very much in evidence.

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I bought some paprika and some saffron. Saffron came in quantities from 5 grams to 20 grams, but even 5 grams was more than I’d ever seen before in one place! Anyway, my 5 grams of saffron is apparently worth more than 5 grams of gold.

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10102008116, originally uploaded by fingerstoes.

i’m at the airport on my way back to london and managed to pick up some free wireless on my phone. This is a photo i took the last time i was here, on friday. You may not be able to tell as this is as close as i could get, but that is air force one you are looking at there. There was a nato meeting here last week. I saw the plane on the tarmac after we landed, surrounded by men in black. After picking up my bag i headed up to the observation deck to get a photo but not surprisingly it was closed. Wary of getting my camera out with the place crawling with security men i managed to kinnear this one with my phone instead. And live to tell the tale! I’ve had a great time in budapest and i can’t wait to post all of my other photos, which are currently stuck on my camera until i get home. Until then!